Last week two unmanned prototype satellites have successfully completed an autonomous satellite refueling mission while orbiting our planet:
The ASTRO satellite, one of two spacecraft flying the Orbital Express refueling mission, successfully pumped vital hydrazine fuel into its NextSat counterpart as part of Scenario 0-1, the first in a series of increasingly challenging tests.
“The first Orbital Express demonstration, Scenario 0-1, was very successful,” a spokesperson Jan Walker for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is overseeing the mission, said in a written update Wednesday. “ASTRO transferred just under 32 pounds (14 kilograms) of hydrazine to the NextSat client, meeting the scenario objective.”
Walker said the robotic arm-equipped ASTRO, short for Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations, first delivered the hydrazine during the early hours of April 1 via a fluid hookup, and then followed up by transferring an additional 19 pounds (8.6 kilograms) of propellant to NextSat a day later. NextSat was due to return propellant to ASTRO sometime today, she added.